It’s hard to believe that it has already been six weeks into the term and seven weeks since I’ve flown from JFK to Edinburgh. It’s a very surreal experience to think about that I’m living in such a beautiful city for my third year of college. With that said, I can’t think of a better way to be spending my third than by being at the University of Edinburgh. Now that I’ve gotten a handle on my schedule, and made a solid routine things have become very normal. Though the UK school system is very different to what I’m accustomed to in Connecticut, I do think that I’ve learned a lot in this new learning environment. Getting used to a 300 person lecture for a literature course was a little daunting at first (since my largest English class has been 30 students ever), but now it’s totally normal and easy to follow with my tutorial. It definitely makes me feel like there’s a solid and healthy balance between academic and social life here. There’s always work to be done and the work is difficult, but it’s never extenuating. Beyond academics I have to say I’ve been blessed with a very lovely flat with amazing flat mates. Living with six people can be daunting but between the four British students and one other American, it all works out. We even do communal dinners six days a week and hangout all the time. In short, it’s the best living situation I’ve ever had, having attended two different universities in the past and have now lived in three different housing arrangements.
Having so much to do in the city, Edinburgh is the perfect place to go to university. Though my dream city is London where I’ve lived for a semester in the past, Edinburgh has so much going for it and really tailors to students. Whether it is coffee with friends, to clubbing any day of the week, there’s just enough to do to so there’s never a dull moment. Having had seven weeks to be here so far I’ve definitely had enough time to explore the restaurant scene here. Elephant and Bagels is the best place to get a great bagel sandwich and makes me feel like I’m home when I miss Manhattan. The best place for latte and a solid two to three hour chat is Black Medicine Coffee and Co. I’ve spent at least three hours in there just hanging out with friends and studying every week. For pints though I’m a bit split. Brew Dogs has great craft beer and is located centrally on Cowgate. But for a more upbeat atmosphere for a bar, Pilgrim is also fun for a Thursday evening. The nightlife here is vivid and readily accessible to students, which is excellent.
Living in Scotland’s capital though can feel a little isolating in the sense that there’s so much to see outside of the city. Last weekend I had the opportunity to go the countryside with family friends who are on holiday. They took their son and I to Rosslyn Chapel, which is where the end of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown takes place. After that, we headed to Stirling to see Stirling Castle and the National Wallace Monument (so many stairs, so little time). The views from both places were breathtaking. Not to get totally cliché and sound like a literature nerd, but from the top of both landmarks it looked like the scenes in the Keira Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice film when she walks to collect her sister from Mr. Bingley. Seeing the countryside of Scotland it is only now that I understand how the Romantic poets could be so easily inspired by Nature. The day was topped off with a stop at Loch Lomond, which is a cute lakeside preserved village. The views of the mountains paired with the water made me really feel like I was in the Scotland that I imagined. Scotland has such a versatile and green landscape it’s almost hard to conceptualize. I honestly could not think of a better place to spend my third year, this has been the best semester of my life.